Intervention #8: Viktorie Langer - Caramello
The paintings on fabric, canvas and furniture as well as the minute objects by Viktorie Langer are characterized by a dreamy, wandering look which is abstracting while leaving readable traces of its original inspirations. Rather than focusing on the sharp contours of objects or figures, Viktorie captures their aura which keeps changing its colors and rounding its shapes. She creates multi-layered installations, playing with the rapid passing of time around us as well as the physical presence of the viewers. The exhibition, prepared directly for the space of the Regional Gallery in Liberec, introduces primarily new works in a specific constellation, loosely continuing Langer’s presentation at last year’s Jindřich Chalupecký Award and her residency in Rotterdam, Netherlands in early 2018.
Viktorie Langer (1988) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (Painting Studio II / Vladimír Skrepl School). She also went to an exchange program at the Bellas Artes department of Universidad Complutense in Madrid and spent two semesters at the studios of visiting professors Florian Pumhösel and Silke Otto Knapp at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. Valocká is primarily a painter who also works in the media of collage, drawing and ceramics. Her often large-size paintings are clearly inspired by early 20th century art rather than by the current trends on the international scene. Nevertheless, her almost abstract work uses a very contemporary language and has a mature signature style. The artist has introduced her work primarily in the context of the Czech independent scene, however, her work has also been exhibited at the National Gallery in Prague and the Sør-Troms Museum in Trastad, Norway. In 2016, she went to a residency in Athens within Are-events. In 2017, she was a finalist of Jindřich Chalupecký Award.
What is important about the present is that it sometimes extends over eternity, while, when looking at it in retrospect, perceiving it as a past already, it seems to have passed too fast. Yes, sometimes even the present moment is too fleeting; especially when we are not much aware of it, when we are really concentrating on something, something that we love and that fulfills us. We won’t even notice that it’s gone. On the other hand, there are moments when we are very well aware that the present moment is here; that we are here. It doesn’t have to be simply because we’re standing in a line, sitting at a boring lecture, waiting for an unpleasant conversation to be over. It can be a long stretch of daydreaming, a creative boredom when we can just lay back, wander around the room with our eyes and let the objects and colors around us lazily merge into each other. Why not even light up something slightly intoxicating, something that subtly smells of cocoa beans…
I can see Viktorie sitting like this, in a coffee shop in Rotterdam where she went on a residency recently, or at the courtyard of a little castle just outside of Prague where her studio is located. I feel that she can even sit like that in a pub with a bunch of friends – shutting her mind to the voices, laughter and conversations and just wandering with her eyes for a moment, watching the foam slowly disappear from a glass of beer, gazing at the lighter, somebody’s hand, the texture of wood. While doing so, she does not subject the objects to the strict look of an empiric and critic. She involves them in a stream of thoughts and visions, her personal “flow”. With the same ease, their fragments and mutations reappear in her canvases and paintings on fabric. I don’t see her at all stretching the canvas, spraying it, stirring glue, tie-dying the fabrics in buckets, hanging them up with dyed water dripping to the floor. Yes, of course, she does all that, and her work makes it clear that it wasn’t born out of foam. Yet it has this very dreamy, wandering gaze which abstracts, despite leaving readable traces of its original inspirations. Rather than the sharp contours of objects or figures, Viktorie captures their aura, their magnetism which is changing colors and rounding shapes.
Then there are the hanging objects which sort of are and are not part of the painting aura on the walls. Cheap materials contrasting with natural products and old found objects clink on the edges of time, breaking the slightly hallucinogenic stream, while casually being part of it. They laugh at themselves, whirling in a Mexican (or Czech?) dance at the carnival of life and death. They worship the precision of the astronomical clock and its enigmatic mystery, as well as the plastic fruit carelessly arranged in a sale. They finish the words unsaid by the paintings, while also giving voice to empty places and unasked questions. They invite the viewers to join in their play, like their figural counterparts or like a wandering look that may finally end up at the watch. Then they will be a little sorry for losing the moment of roaming which may have seemed infinite for a little while.